I have often spoken of the bourgeois proletariat, and I regret that it aroused only a feeble interest in the Communist Left.
Yet I have shown that it was an important, if not fundamental, concept in Marx, Engels and Lenin to explain the economic root of opportunism.
How to explain that an organization of proletarian origin degenerates, and associates itself with bourgeois politics?
Two interpretations oppose:
"The organization was the victim of the ideological influence of the bourgeoisie, through its means of propaganda"
"With economic development, a section of the proletariat is detached from the mass of the proletariat by its national, trade union, university privileges ... Its salary is higher, its situation is more stable and more secure thanks to social insurance and diplomas; for this section of the proletariat, the communist revolution is a degradation of its social and economic position, so it is opposed. It fights with the mass of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie if it can improve its own situation by this means; it fights with the bourgeoisie against the mass of the proletariat if it can retain its privileges by this means. Its intermediate economic situation between the mass of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie explains its permeability to bourgeois ideology and its opportunism. "
There have always been intermediate classes in class society, but it would be a mistake to classify them uniformly as "petty bourgeoisie" without rigorously defining them from an economic and social point of view. The degeneration of organizations from the proletariat is usually not petty-bourgeois, but bourgeois-proletarian.
The concept of bourgeois proletariat, of this social stratum, which has an immediate economic interest in the permanence of bourgeois society, although it is not bourgeois, explains all the ideological deviations by their economic roots:
If there is an economic privilege linked to nationality in a territory, then this favors the corresponding ideology: nationalism. A section of the proletariat privileged because of its nationality, will be more likely to associate with the bourgeoisie because of its nationalist policy.
If there is an economic privilege related to the professional bodies, then that favors the corresponding ideology: corporatism. A section of the proletariat privileged because of its professional body (diplomas, union, large companies, civil service, university, grandes écoles...), will be more likely to associate with the bourgeoisie because of its corporatist policy.
The concept of bourgeois proletariat explains the degeneration of the USSR.
What are the Stakhanovists? What are party members, senior officials, state enterprise and state leaders? Different strata of the bourgeois proletariat: from the poorly privileged proletarians to the ruling caste which has a social and economic situation almost identical to the private bourgeoisie.
The degeneration of the USSR can be explained by the detachment of a section of the proletariat which is gentrified, not only by a higher level of consumption, but also and above all by its position in the relations of production and exchange.
Why does the Communist Left completely ignore this concept of the bourgeois proletariat?
Because, like any organization resulting from the proletariat, it also welcomes within it elements of the bourgeois proletariat.
Although elements of the bourgeois proletariat may, by reason of their personal history, be good Communists, they exert, as a subclass, a pressure towards conciliation and opportunism, which derive from their economic privilege in the sphere of consumption and in the relations of production.
This is why I have proposed that the individual consumption of communists does not exceed the average of the world's individual consumption, in purchasing power parity. The excess must be collectivized within the party. The average of world individual consumption, in purchasing power parity, constitutes a simple economic limit which enables us to define the bourgeois proletariat.
This is why I also propose that the professional career of a communist be put to good use by the party, since it exceeds a "medium" situation, which remains to be defined. However, it roughly corresponds, in capitalist society, to a real income above the world average, in purchasing power parity, easy to determine.
Finally, I propose that the individual savings that can constitute a communist, whatever its form (money, real estate...), does not exceed the average of the global individual savings, in parity of purchasing power. The surplus in turn must be collectivized.
By intervening on the economic substratum of the party, to limit the development of bourgeois proletarian interests, we will observe a reorientation of the interest of the party towards the mass of the world proletariat, and a relative disinterest for the privileged layers of the national-corporative proletariat.
In the end, in the party as elsewhere, it is not the ideological struggles that decide the political orientation. It is the economic substratum.